I have an amalgam filling that covers about 65% of a tooth. I’d like to switch it out for a composite filling for two reasons. One, I’ve heard they are better for teeth. Two, I think they would look better. I asked my dentist about switching them out and he said he doesn’t think that is a good idea because he said that amalgam fillings stain teeth. If so, is there a way to get rid of the staining?
You have the right idea in both your reasons for wanting to switch out your fillings. While it is true that amalgam fillings can discolor your teeth a bit, dentists have removed many amalgam fillings to replace them with composite fillings and the composite fillings always look better. Always.
Plus, composite is bonded directly to your teeth, which will strengthen it rather than weaken it the way amalgam does.
My guess is your dentist is steering you away from switching them out because he hasn’t yet learned either how to place composites, how to safely remove amalgam fillings, or both. This is a common deflection tactic among dentists. They don’t know how to do a procedure so they make up a reason why you shouldn’t or will steer you toward a procedure they are more comfortable with. Some dentists feel patients will lose confidence in them if they admit they don’t know something.
However, I have always found that patients appreciate the frankness and will remain loyal to a dentist who looks out for their best interest even if it means sending them somewhere else for a single procedure.
Safely Removing Amalgam Fillings
Because the largest ingredient in amalgam fillings is mercury, you can’t just remove them without taking precautions. You’ll want to find a dentist who knows the procedure for sanitary amalgam removal. This will include having special equipment.
The two most common ways to find a dentist who can do that for you is by doing a search for either a holistic dentist or a mercury-free dentist.
One other comment. You mentioned that your filling took up about 65% of your tooth. This is too large for a filling. If that number is correct, you really should have been given a dental crown for that tooth. Once decay gets to 30% of a tooth, it is better for the patient’s tooth to be crowned.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.